NOTTINGHAM, September 29 – British knockout artist Jimi Manuwa showed off his power often against Octagon vet Kyle Kingsbury in the former’s UFC debut Saturday, closing the Californian’s eye and forcing a doctor’s stoppage just before the third round began in UFC on FUEL TV prelim action at the Capital FM Arena.
Manuwa swung too hard and overbalanced early, which led to his being stuck under the very heavy Kingsbury for precisely half the opening round. He was not a happy man when he regained his feet, and he let Kingsbury know it with a huge knee to the body followed by some heavy, heavy punches. The sound of them landing was clearly audible around the arena - and they landed by the dozen.
The battering that Manuwa subjected Kingsbury to for the last half of the first round is one of the hardest beatings that any fighter in UFC history has sustained while remaining standing. Flying knees, left hooks, head kicks and punishing body blows had Kingsbury looking lost, hurt and hesitant. He also had his left eye closed by the end of the first and had lumps on his head the size of eggs.
Manuwa’s ridiculously hard left hook had Kingsbury ducking every time the London man feinted it. That played right into Manuwa’s hands, as he threw massive knees into Kingsbury’s jaw every time he did so. He also proved very resistant to Kingsbury’s increasingly desperate takedown attempts. In the interval after the first round, it looked doubtful whether Kingsbury would even emerge for the second.
But he did emerge and he came out hard, his corner having told him to get busy and try to get Manuwa moving backwards. He couldn’t keep it up for long though - when Manuwa started landing bombs, Kingsbury was again looking for takedown attempts. In between them, he was wandering backwards looking like a man with no ideas.
Manuwa hugely endeared himself to the crowd by demanding Kingsbury return to his feet every time he had been knocked down. It wasn’t until late in the second that Kingsbury was able to hit a takedown of his own and keep Manuwa on his back. He passed to side control with relative ease, but couldn’t get any submission efforts together.
When the second round ended, Kingsbury’s left eye was literally sealed shut. He was up on his feet ready to go at the start of the third but when the referee looked at the eye, it was clear that Kingsbury was unable to see. He waved the fight off and while Kingsbury protested a little, there was more than a little relief there as well.
AKIRA CORASSANI VS ANDY OGLE
Akira Corassani once spent a training camp at Kaobon, the Liverpool, UK gym which Andy Ogle represents, but that didn’t benefit the Brit in any noticeable way except perhaps to make him aware in advance of Corassani’s accurate striking ability. Ogle is no slouch either though, and with the striking pedigree of Kaobon behind him he and Corassani made the first round into a demonstration of technical standup.
Corassani proved to be a very tricky customer, with lots of feinting and changing of angles and levels. Ogle scored an early knockdown via a right-hand counter, but on the whole it was he who found himself being countered when he attempted to press forward. Corassani landed some powerful shots on the young Brit, cutting his scalp and rattling him to the extent that he looked - unsuccessfully - to get Corassani down.
Corassani had a cut over his left eye at the end of the first round, but was clearly feeling confident going into the second. Ogle looked for the takedown more than once, and at times was backpedalling frantically as Corassani walked him down and cut off his angles. Such was Corassani’s level of comfort that he tried a spinning heel-kick. It didn’t land, but it did get an ‘oooh’ from the crowd.
With two minutes left in the second round, Ogle did manage to score a takedown by catching a low kick and turning it into a single leg, but Corassani butt-scooted backwards and put his back on the cage, attempting to wall-walk up it. Ogle managed to stop him doing so, looking for a guillotine in the process, but Corassani broke free with thirty seconds to go. Ogle battered him as he did so, but the buzzer sounded to end the round. Literally at the same time, Corassani threw a right hand and knocked Ogle down. The British fighter landed heavily on his backside but instantly jumped up and returned to his corner while Corassani got heavily booed by the crowd.
Ogle tried to hit a takedown early in the third and nearly got kicked in the face for his troubles. He avoided that by diving backwards, but that meant Corassani was able to get top position on him. Ogle reversed him and the two entered a scramble that persisted for the duration of the round, interspersed with stalemates as the two held position on each other and contemplated their next move in the full-contact chess game.
With Corassani on all fours looking for a single leg, Ogle was able to chip away with his elbows and rattle his fellow TUF veteran, as well as draw some blood from him. He also fished for submission chokes but couldn’t quite get anything locked up. Corassani held on gamely but couldn’t finish the single leg and Ogle took the third round on two of the judges’ cards. A split decision resulted, with Corassani going 29-28 on two cards. The third judge - inexplicably - gave the fight to Ogle 30-27.
Go behind Corassani's win
BRAD TAVARES VS TOM WATSON
Tom Watson, making his UFC debut on this card, is notorious for getting into wars, and Brad Tavares is the kind of man who will duly oblige him. The result was a three-round battle which tested the heart, chins and fitness of both participants. They started trading heavy leather early and didn’t stop until the final bell, giving the fans three rounds of action which they lapped up.
Tavares’ boxing looked exceptional early on, with crisp 1-2 combinations and his hands returning directly to a guard position. Watson was looking for the body kick underneath them but was forced to retreat and cover as the straight shots kept coming. When he was backed onto the fence, Tavares hit a successful takedown and looked like he might be on track to get an early finish from superior position.
But Watson is made of stern stuff and, with a very partisan crowd behind him, was soon back to his feet and into a firefight. Jumping kicks came from both sides and Watson began looking for knees to the body in order to take some wind out of Tavares, who thought that to be a good tactic and adopted it himself. At one point both threw knees at each other and Watson’s went astray - right into Tavares’ groin. He shrugged that one off and the two shook hands, but he was not happy later in the round when a Watson inside-low went a touch too high and clipped his groin box. That earned Watson a warning from British referee Leon Roberts.
Two rounds of intense action followed. Tavares’ workrate and accuracy were higher than Watson’s and as he poured on the pressure he edged ahead on the scorecards. Successful takedown efforts racked up points for him but he was never able to keep Watson down for long. The British middleweight continually returned to his feet to throw shots with bad intentions but it looked like the wrestling was sapping his strength as the fight went on.
Nonetheless it was a close one and while most fans were sure it was a unanimous decision for Tavares, the judges weren’t so sure. One had the fight for Watson 29-28, the other two for Tavares 30-27 and 29-28, handing the American fighter a split-decision win after a performance which put them in the running for Fight of the Night.
Watch Tavares' post-fight interview
GUNNAR NELSON VS DAMARQUES JOHNSON
An Icelandic folk song accompanied 24-year-old BJJ black belt Gunnar Nelson to the Octagon for one of the most anticipated debuts in some time. Nelson is a grappling prodigy and has a huge reputation in the jiu-jitsu world. He had been a UFC target for some time but had elected to continue honing his skills before accepting a call-up.
His route to this fight was tumultuous. Original opponent Pascal Krauss pulled out and so did replacement Rich Attonito, leaving Johnson in on one week’s notice. Johnson had a hard weight cut but a lot more experience than Nelson, who brought an undefeated 9-0-1 record in with him.
It was an intriguing affair from the off; Nelson took a stance that immediately marked him out as a karate man and indeed he was the karate champion of Iceland three years running. But it was the jiu-jitsu that the fans wanted to see and so after some unorthodox kicking, he was able to get Johnson against the cage in a clinch. From there he took Johnson down with relative ease and took the fight right into his element.
Watching Nelson at work on the mat is to watch mastery; unflappable calm and a sense of someone solving a puzzle rather than engaging in combat. Johnson managed to lock up a very tight omaplata but Nelson regarded the threat with merely a quizzical air, casually turning this way and that until he managed to slide over to Johnson’s other side and negate the pass.
From there he smothered Johnson with the inexorable crushing style of an ice-age setting in. His zen-like facial expression did not change as he moved from side-control to mount, from there to rear-mount and from there to a body triangle which squeezed the fight out of the gutsy Johnson. Time ticked on and the crush got tighter as Nelson slid an arm around Johnson’s neck. The crowd exhaled as they waited for the inevitable, then erupted in a roar as Johnson tapped at 3:34 of the opening round.
The submission win was predicted by many but the demeanour was not; to face your UFC debut with the same expression one might wear when deciding between which shirt to put on is truly remarkable, and highlights Nelson as a unique talent and someone to keep a close eye on.
Hear what Nelson had to say following his big win
ROBBIE PERALTA VS JASON YOUNG
Jason Young’s decision to stand and trade with Robbie Peralta backfired spectacularly. Peralta jabbed Young backwards at the start of the fight and had him near the fence when Young elected to stand his ground and let his hands go. Peralta had been loading up what looked like an obvious right hand but he launched it just as Young let his own hands go. The result was that a huge overhand right sailed into Young’s jaw and the British fighter hit the floor hard. Peralta was on him instantly with further shots but the referee stepped in and stopped the bout 23 seconds in to save the semi-conscious Young from unnecessary damage.
Watch Peralta's post-fight interview
Manuwa Impressive in UFC Debut, Halts Kingsbury in Two - UFC on FUEL TV 5 Prelim Results
By James Slattery September 29, 2012